Kasparov Traverse

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.05800°N / 105.651°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Summer
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.6 (YDS)
Sign the Climber's Log


The Kasparov Traverse is the name of the connecting ridge between Shoshoni Peak and Apache Peak in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This is a classic route. The ridge is about a mile long, and is puntuated throughout with a series of towers that can be climbed. Collectively, the towers are referred to as "The Chessmen." The quality rock and position combine to make this one of the best routes in the Indian Peaks.

Getting There

From the Lake Isabelle trailhead, follow the trail for ~2 miles to Lake Isabelle. Hang a right on the Pawnee Pass Trail to Pawnee Pass, then head SE over a small summit and a broad plateau to the summit of Shoshoni. The route follows the ridge connecting Shoshoni Peak and Apache Peak to the south.

Route Description

Drop slightly off the summit of Shoshoni and head for the obvious ridge towards Apache. The first 1/3 of the route is easy hiking. For the most part, staying right on the ridge provides the most aesthetic line, with most unavoidable difficulties bypassed on the east side of the ridge.

The most interesting way to complete the ridge is to summit the many towers you encounter along the way. The towers are described in the order you encounter them, if travelling from Shoshoni to Apache.

1. White Knight (4th). This is the first major tower you encounter. Traverse on ledges to the east side of the tower and follow a solid 4th-class face to the saddle between the White Knight and the next tower, the Knight's Pawn. Follow the easy ridge to the top. Scramble to the top of the Knight's Pawn.

2. The Queen (5.0). This is the 2nd major tower encountered on the ridge. Stay on ledgees east of the tower, then climb a well-featured wall and crack system on the east face.

3. The Bishop (5.4). The third major tower on the north-south Kasparov Traverse from Shoshoni to Apache. From the east side of the tower, make a few 5th-class moves to gain the north ridge. Cruise the slabby ridge to the summit.

After The Bishop, you will arrive at a small saddle in the ridge. From here, two major formations will definitely catch your eye: The Rook and the Bishop's Scepter (see photos) The Rook is the largest of the two towers, nearly right on the ridge, and the Bishop's Scepter is off the ridge to the west. The Black Knight is just north of Bishop's Scepter. The Rook has been climbed (5.11?), but not by us, so I will not describe it here.

4. Bishop's Scepter (5.6). This is a great summit. Climb blocky ledges on the S. side of the spire, tending right to a stance in a small alcove. Traverse up and left to a crack and climb to the needle-like summit (80'). Sling the spire with a sling and rap (single rope) back to the bottom or downclimb the route.

5. The Black Knight (5.5R). This tower is just SW of Bishop's Scepter. Scramble along a ledge to the east side of the tower. Climb an obvious, loose chimney to a stance on a large ledge, and continue up the blocky face to the summit. Downclimb back to the ledge, and reverse the chimney, or rap from a slung block at the S. end of the ledge.

6. The King's Pawn (4th class). Work back to and up the ridge for several hundred feet (3rd class) passing obstacles on the east. Scramble up the east face to the summit of the King's Pawn (more of a bump in the ridge than a tower). Downclimb ledges on the east side or rapple to an obvious notch back on the ridge.

7. The King (3rd class). The King is the last (and largest) of the obstacles on the route. Stay on the ridge or east side to another notch, and climb a blocky 100' NW to the summit.

From the bottom of the King, regain the ridge and follow it for several hundred easy feet to the summit of Apache.

Descend the East Ledges route from the summit of Apache to the Isabelle Glacier, and follow the Isabelle Glacier trail back to the trailhead.

Essential Gear

A light alpine rack (to 2"), cams and stoppers, 8 shoulder-slings with biners.

External Links

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McCannster - Jul 20, 2016 5:50 pm - Hasn't voted

The Rook

The Rook goes at about 5.9+. There is a beautiful splitter hand crack that splits the south face of it, and you can tackle the roof head on (5.10+? with a fixed pin), or you can make a delicate traverse out right, under the roof, on face holds to the corner of the formation, that leads to easier climbing to the top, and that's about 5.9, maybe 5.9+ if you're short. Definitely get on this, even if 5.9 is your limit, the gear is very good and provides the best quality climbing of any of the Chessmen.

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